Marigolds

After the YACHT show my sibling and drove up our dirt road to find it obstructed by a pot of marigolds. “Dad loves marigolds!” we exclaimed and I heaved the mass of someone else’s labor into the backseat of my car.
The next day I drove down our road and saw that our neighbor had only one potted plant lining her gate and deduced where our gift had come from. Around midnight my brother and I put the pot back by her gate with an apology note.
My mom and I were buying some marigolds, a funnel and a six-pack at Albertson’s and the woman behind us was buying a Heath bar and a bouquet of flowers. “It must be flower day!” the cashier exclaimed, and the woman behind us said that Albertson’s was close to the cemetery. “My dad passed a year and a half ago, and I’m just waiting for it to get easier.” I felt lucky to be buying living flowers for a living dad.
A few hours later I saw a Facebook status my dad had posted warning against purchasing flowers at Albertson’s, so it looks like our father’s day gift will require some maintenance against white fly. I just figured he could leisurely guzzle Marble Taproom IPA through a funnel while admiring his fancy blue-glazed pot of marigolds.Later my mom and I realized we had forgotten the tomato juice, which makes a good cocktail with cheap beer, soy sauce, sugar, and chili paste. My brother and I went to fetch some and ran into my aunt at the store who asked: “is there anything I get for you at the store?”Cole Bee Wilson is better with our little cousins than Noah and I are, and asked the children about how he should play the stock market as they expounded their wisdom on Trader Joe’s version of Funions. “Are those organic?” Cole questioned.
Noah and I sat on the couch working on projects and talking with Grandpa Obie and Ian about music and the difference between men’s and women’s shirts. Cole and my grandpa were wearing girlfriend/wife shirts.By the time my dad was done listing the ingredients of the rib-rub he had made (chili, turmeric, cumin, soy sauce, honey etc.) my aunt was on the way to the emergency room with my little cousin Basie having an allergic reaction. Eileen, my step grandma (my Eileen) accompanied and those of us in the front yard continued to drink beer and play music.
My grandpa passed me a joint and after my mom explained to him that I didn’t want to smoke it. He expounded about how the medical stuff was very strong and his friend has recently passed out from one hit. My uncle played his hit who’s chorus was developed at age 5 or so: “Micky Mouse was a cowboy.” We delved deep into the rhetoric of the song.
My little cousin came back from the E room with his posse and was embarrassed to be seen without a shirt. I offered him the littlest one I have and insisted that he must get into the Mars Volta due to its namesake, as Adhit had insisted to me when the garment was given to me.
At the end of the evening everyone ate lemon meringue pie (except the town-vegan) and talked about music. My uncle patted my brother and I on the back, saying he had enjoyed hanging out with us and loved us. I drank more whiskey and felt sentimental.

Glass Glass Sine Sine

Ira Glass was narrating my life as I travelled on a glass bridge that extended across the edge of a cliff face. It went on for miles. As I neared an impasse Ira noted that this was the point where I would not be allowed to go any further if I didn’t convert to the religion of the bridge guardians.I was angry. I needed to know what was on the other side. A security office was built into the cliff. I rang the doorbell and explained that I wouldn’t join a religion, but that I wanted to see the rest of the world.

A group of young adults jostled around the restaurant where our orientation would begin, taking group pictures and giggling. Multicolored flags whipped in the spring wind. Round black lacquered tables filled the dark space and we strained our eyes to read the Chinese on the menus. The wait staff spoke Spanish and I tried to tell everyone around about neural oscillations, sine waves, the patterns of dragons through the galaxy, and how all these things are similar.

I knew we could use our brainwaves to find the dragons. Benji had drawn a dragon in dayglo pink chalk in the middle of an empty parking lot and a crowd of people filled in symbols around it. They said that I should draw a sign, so I drew a sine wave.

Mummies Don’t have Electricity

In an underground room I cut the head off of a mummified corpse with a steak knife. The corpse had been a prominent man and had a black scar on his left cheek. I was going to use his head as a MIDI controller.

Of course it didn’t work. Mummies don’t have any electricity. No damn brainwaves to control sound waves. I felt guilty and left the head in the theatre.

Summary of Last Semester

Mainly what I did this semester was take 8 classes and create 3 theses. I also learned how to swim.
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I recorded samples and made instruments out of them. Bottles clanking created high percussion and water-filled woks made wobble-lines. I harvested gamelan sounds and lined up the pulsing patterns to create rhythmic structure.
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How cool would it be to create an interface that used body-motion to control music? This is how I felt my music should be performed: music is gesture. I realized it would be possible with a Kinect sensor! I performed the piece at the X Sound Festival. It appeared that I was floating because I was lit by backlight, wearing a UV costume I had made, and standing on one leg to use one foot to pan a track. In the end I rolled off the stage into the audience.
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My teacher was powerful mad at me for putting a dead coyote in her dishwasher. Just kidding, she was mad for having poor time management skills and adding elements to my projects at the last minute. “This performance is an application downloaded from the ether, are you sure you want to open it?” “The X Sound Festival has unexpectedly quit, reopen?” Once I had been scolded for being unprofessional for about an hour I don’t think I learned my lesson. I shouldn’t be flippant about this because it is tiresome to cause such stress, but I feel it is a fundamental weakness and will likely require more than a couple hundred personal fuckups.
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Here’s the part where I get to brag though: after being chided my teacher said it was impressive that I had written two songs and made a music video in three weeks, along with creating a multi-media performance. She commented that I had accomplished more with the Kinect sensor technology in a few weeks than the combined efforts of the technical director of Mills and another graduate student had over the course of four months. 
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I was burnt out on working hard and continued to work hard. I directed my first video crew and finished my psychology thesis. I had an average of 3 hours a day commuting by bus throughout the semester and would use it to do research for the psychology thesis – it showed – in retrospect it was badly written. I ended up writing about music as a metaphor for brain function, discussing how cross-cerebral neural oscillation synchrony may be a crucial component for cognitive function.
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Now I’m done with my undergraduate degree. I’ve had capstone educational experiences, but it’s still odd not to be thinking about what classes I’ll take next semester. Now I’m trying to find a job and an apartment like everyone does after they graduate. 
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Avocado Kingdom

B1

After escaping the summer-camp of Mills campus living I moved into the Avocado Kingdom in West Oakland.

Construction paper decorations lined the halls of the student apartments on campus. As security guards let me into the building (due to the non-working keys I had been given) I was faced with an army of Winnie the Poohs. The flatmates in my “apartment” had added extra rules to the already middle-school-esque list, such as “No Drinking.” Apparently taking out the trash wasn’t a rule however, as the place stank like a restaurant dumpster in the sun.

I used someone’s cutting board on my first day. The next time I opened the cabinet the entire thing was papered, angry sharpie exclaiming: “DON”T USE MY STUFF W/OUT ASKING!” Every time I entered the space whatever roommate was out and about would scurry away, slamming the door behind them.

 

B2The Avocado Kingdom is built in Victorian style, is over a century old, has a great view of the Port of Oakland and rent there was less than half price of living on campus. I lived with Vas, a Stanford PHDcandidate and rhetoric teacher focusing on animal rights, his wife Debs who had studied physics and art and works a 9-5 on environmental regulation, moonlighting as a torch-singer, Karem, an anthropology PHD candidate at Stanford who is taking time off soon to protest in Egypt, and Tina, a mysterious woman who seems to work at a school in Oakland. To juxtapose the last group of souls with whom I inhabited shared space, my new roommates would feed me vegan ice cream sandwiches and roll on the floor laughing at my jokes. We rotated who’s avocados would be used based on which ones were ripe  and If they took one of my beers they would buy me a six pack.

In my neighborhood there’s a liquor store on every corner where there isn’t a Baptist church or a beauty supply warehouse. At one juncture the former two stand next to each other, “True Light Church” is white with black lettering and has the same dimensions as “Sav-Mor Liquor” which is black with red lettering. There are projects, newly developed modern apartments, industrial leftovers and current industry. Mostly there are old Victorians in various states of repair – formerly suburbs for San Franciscans at the turn of the century.

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Whenever I would mention that I take the bus from West Oakland people would express their concern over my safety walking home through such a “ghetto” area.  At one point I was walking home late at night and a van began to follow me slowly. A middle-aged man rolled down his window and with genuine concern said: “Are you alright walking this late at night?” Once I got to my block a shiny sedan tailed me for an uncomfortable distance. The driver of this vehicle seemed to have more malicious intentions than the first concerned citizen. He said “Why are you out so late at night?” I commented that he seemed to be insinuating that it was dangerous for me to be out and noted that he was responsible for said danger. I commented that if he stopped being a threat there wouldn’t be a threat and continued on my way. I started carrying around a mirror shard so that if something like that happened again I could hold it up and say: “You’re dreaming” but it never did.

The “Lower Bottom” is a neighborhood’s nighborhood where gentrification is discussed in community meetings by gentrifiers and non-gentrifiers alike. Our block is filled with people who watch out for each other, bringing one another food and chatting on porches. Everyone’s favorite neighbor is probably a man who goes by “Pee Wee” and takes it upon himself to weedB4 everyone’s yard and tend the grass at the little park on the corner. He does this all for free but whenever we would catch him tending our yard we’d make sure to give him a beer.

One of the best things about my block is that it dead-ends into a vacant lot that’s filled with big metal pipes. I spent a lot of time recording the resonant properties within the pipes, and stopping by late/early in the dark to sing. One day I was shooting video in the tunnels and was surprised to see some hipsters on a stoop nearby. Later I found a note on my car saying that I was: “Super cute” and asking to hang out. After I had finished two of my theses I finally had the time to kick it on the porch with fellow skinny-jean wearing, vegetarian-

hipsters holding requisite Pabst-forties. It’s too bad I had to leave to NM at the end of the semester, because my new neighbor was also “super cute.”

The best porch drinking experience I had was shared with my roommates. I came home to tell Vas that I would be heading home at the beginning of the summer and he poured me a third of a bottle of his fancy tequila. When Debs got back from work we broke out my shitty tequila and invited every neighbor who walked by to join us.  I took everyone on a field trip to the pipes, but only Debs made B5it, as the others became engaged in conversation with Pee Wee. She promptly began torch singing (nice pipes in nice pipes hee hee hee) and eventually we discovered that the others couldn’t find us and had encountered some mishaps, so perhaps the tunnels can only be seen by wizards. This point is further illustrated by the fact that one day I saw about 2 dozen people with bikes emerging from the pipes, causing me to infer that it’s a hipster-portal.

My roommates half jokingly offered me free rent at the end of my time in Oakland, and we came up with a money making scheme so that I could continue to live there: A vegan ice cream cart called “Polar Bear Sex” (because it’s cool and ironic ). Our music would cater to our demographic and consist of vintage video game jingles done ice cream truck chime style.

At the end of my stay in the Avocado Kingdom my sibling and I infused the neighborhood with our music, taking pictures powered with AA batteries, and getting ice cream for dinner at liquor stores. If only Polar Bear Sex did exist – I wouldn’t have to break my veganism for the sake of irony.